Greek speciality foods producer Gaea treated olive oil fans recently to an evening in the company of world renowned olive oil authority and 'sommelier' Michael North as part of it's campaign to educate UK consumer abuot the delights of the world's finest olive oils.
The event, which was held at Home House, London, and organized by leading Greek extra virgin olive oil producer Gaea, was a great success with guests getting a unique opportuity to taste a selecon of oils from around Europe with expert tuition from Michael.
During the session, Michael showed his guests how to enjoy and savour oils from Greece, Italy and Spain . . . Europes three pre-eminent producers of fine olive oils.
Olive oil tasting is an art equal in terms and complexity and difficulty with wine tasting. It requires highly skilled and trained experts and is carried out through a strict and detailed procedure and scoring card created by the International Olive Oil Council.
Michael shared some top tips with his audience including:
THE OLIVE IS A FRUIT - so as you would choose a fruit juice, look for freshness and long shelf life.
LOOK FOR THE D.O.P. LOGO - It's not at all uncommon for olive oils to be produced in one country, then shipped and bottled in another, making it difficult to identify it's actual country of origin. The D.O.P. logo is important. It stands for Protected Designation of Origin and is defined by the European Union and connected with a very specific geographical area that defines taste, quality and other singular characteristis of the product.
How to taste Olive Oil
POURING YOUR OIL - place 15 -20ml of extra virgin olive oil in a small cup or wine glass.
1st SMELLING - Slightly heat the cup or glass with your hands, and then breathe in the aromas from the oil. Try to detect the fruitiness. The aroma should be pleasant, and may be reminiscent of freshly mown grass, olive fruits and olive leaves.
THE TASTING - Slurp in a small amount of oil, working it over your tongue to get the full benefit of all the different tastes that make up each and every single olive oil.
Michael took his audiance on a journey through the olive groves of Europe, explaining what to look out for when shopping for olive oil, and explaining how Extra Virgin oils, which contain less than 0.8% acidity, are cold pressed from the finest olives.
An Extra Virgin Olive Oil is always superior in terms of quality, containing the following qualities:
Fruitiness - a sensation of freshly cut olive fruits and leaves when smelling the olive oil.
Spiciness - a peppery sensation at the back of the throat and a slight "Burning" on the throat when tasting olive oil.
A pleasant hint of bitterness -felt at the upper part of the mouth and tongue when tasting olive oil.
Gaea spokesperson Lisa Hohenstein said: "Michael treated our guests to a wonderful masterclass in how to taste and appreciate the world's finesolive oils from around Europe, including some of the finest Greek Olive Oils.
Obviously we know which oils we like the best, but it's important that we continue to share our knowledge of how to enjoy the world's finest olive oils, so that the UK consumer can continue on a voyage of discovery about what makes quality olive oil so unique."
Two unique and special Gaea olive oils are currently available to the UK shoppers, both of which are available in Waitrose and Ocado, RSP: £5.49 each, 500ml
Gaea D.O.P.Sitia, Crete Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a rich, intensely fruity flavour, gentle arom and a soft emerald hue. Made from handpicked and cold pressed Koroneiki olives - a variety unique to Greece. This oil is a winner of many prestigious international prizes.
Gaea D.O.P. Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes from Kalamata in Southern Peloponnese and is also made from cold pressed Koroneiki olives. This Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a favourite of gourmet and wine experts world wide, due to it's uniquely balance and harmonious fresh green flavour and peppery aftertaste. Like it's Sitia sibling, it is rich in health-giving polyphenols and antioxidants.
Gaea also produces a range of top quality Greek foods including Olives, Tapenades, Cooking Sauces and other Greek specialities. Gaea speciality foods are available in Waitrose, Ocado and leading independent retailers.
For recipes and more do check out the Gaea Web page.
Salads are where the lovely flavours of Olive Oil really shine. Here are a few tasty recipes which you could use these fabulous Extra Virgin Olive Oils in.
*A Salad of Cherry Tomatoes and Olives*
Sweet and tart with the flavours of delicious cherry tomatoes, black and green olives, herbs and delicious Balsamic vinegar . . . spring onions. Eat this with some crusty white bread on the side to mop up all those tasty juices.
40 or so cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup oil cured green olives, halved
1 cup oil cured black olives, halved
2 spring onions, chopped, green and white parts
3 ounces pine nuts, toasted
1 TBS good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil, preferably greek
1 TBS dried oregano
1 TBS white sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the tomatoes, olives and onions into a large bowl and mix together lightly with your hands. Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, sugar and oregano. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Pour over the tomato mixture, adding the toasted pinenuts. Toss together lightly, till all are coated with the dressing. Chill for at least an hour before serving to allow the juices to form and the flavours to meld.